As expected, the Pittsburgh Penguins have signed defenseman Marcus Pettersson to a one-year, one-way deal and will have him in training camp. Pettersson accepted his qualifying offer salary of $874,125. GM Jim Rutherford released a short statement on the deal:
Marcus is a smart, reliable defenseman who improved our defensive corps after coming over from Anaheim last year. We are fortunate to have a good, young defenseman of his caliber in our top-six.
Pettersson, 23, will come back to the Penguins on a very reasonable deal after he broke out as a full-time player last season. Originally selected in the second round by the Anaheim Ducks, he ended up on Pittsburgh as the return for Daniel Sprong and immediately found a home. Playing nearly 18 minutes a night, Pettersson recorded 19 points in 57 games with the Penguins and finished tenth in Calder Trophy voting. After Erik Gudbranson was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks, the two made up a very solid second pairing and actually posted some of the strongest possession numbers on the team.
That strong season made many expect a more expensive deal for the young defenseman, but the Penguins have convinced him to come back for at least one more year at a reduced price. While it doesn’t give them much certainty going forward, a near-minimum contract that can be plugged in gives the team a lot more flexibility in designing their roster. The Penguins currently project just over the cap meaning there very well could be another trade coming at some point, though with such a low number for Pettersson they could actually just start the season with fewer than 23 players on the roster and make the decision down the line.
Either way, something will have to change at some point on the blueline. The team has up to nine defensemen with NHL experience and all of them will require waivers in order to be sent to the minor leagues. If they all get through training camp healthy, Rutherford will have to make a decision on who he wants to expose to the rest of the league.
Pettersson will be a restricted free agent again next season and will have arbitration rights.